One of the lesser known saints venerated in the Philippines is the young Roman St. Pancras (St. Pancratius, San Pancracio). Little is known about this young boy of 14 who was reared by a Christian uncle and who found martyrdom during the persecution of Diocletian who had him beheaded. San Pancracio’s cult became popular in England after St. Augustine of Canterbury dedicated his first church to the young boy saint. In the Philippines, the Paco Cemetery Chapel holds him as its titular patron.
This saint has a very distinctive iconography. He is often shown in a centurion costume complete with leather sandals, knee-length tunic, draped with a red cloak to symbolize the blood of martyrdom. He holds a book with Latin inscription: "Venite Ad Me et Ego dabo vobis omnia bona." ( "Come to me and I will give you all that is good.")
His right index finger points heavenward indicating that the promise in the book he holds comes from God. Another emblem of his martyrdom is a palm leaf which he also holds close to his body. Large images of San Pancracio are rather rare in the country.
This particular all-wood example, about 48 inches tall, was found in a Bulacan antique shop. It is carved from light wood, with portions of the back hollowed out in two sections to make it lighter when borne in processions.
Outfitted with glass eyes (one missing), he also has a vintage halo which may not be original to the piece. The original paint is intact with the usual age scruffs and minor paint loses. There are some damages to his fingers and to the base. I was told that this San Pancracio came from an old visita in Makati, but that could not be verified.
O glorious St. Pancratius,
I beg thee to obtain for me all the graces that I need,
but especially health and work,
so that I may appear before thee to thank God
for the favors I received through your powerful intercession.